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Top > Outbound from Komaba > Global Praxis | Short-term International Program > Report Detail > 2015S_001_Learning the Italian Language and Italian Culture Hiroki Yoshimura (LI)

Learning the Italian Language and Italian Culture
Hiroki Yoshimura (LI)

     In August 2015, 16 students from the University of Tokyo, including myself, studied in Italy. We participated in a course held by our university which was about Italian language and culture. I had two motives for participating. The first was that I wanted to know how capable I was in using the Italian language I had been studying for one and a half years. The other was that I had a strong desire to go abroad because I had never been to a foreign country, and I wanted to go to a foreign country where I could make myself understood in the local language even if it would be so on a very small scale.
     In Italy, I not only studied the language but also directly experienced a culture, very different from Japan. As a result, I was able to widen my perspective and becom more international. I am grateful to have received such an opportunity, and I will report below my impressions of the study there and the places where I visited.
     Italy is divided into three parts: north, central, and south. Umbria is located in the middle of central Italy, and we stayed in its capital Perugia.
     We attended the University for foreigners of Perugia for a month. All new students had to take a test before the beginning of the lessons, and then were divided into six classes according to the result. I was admitted to class B2, which is the third from top class. But since I was only given the written examination although the test usually consisted of a written and oral one, I think I was examined perfunctorily.
     The lessons were composed of grammar, oral exercise, listening, and study of Italian culture. I struggled most in the oral exercise. In the class, the professor would pose a theme to discuss and the students would discuss it with the professor. I was very impressed that every student, especially the ones from Europe, would state their own opinions based on clear evidence. I have heard that they had been educated to do so voluntarily since they were a child, but when I actually debated with them, I was overwhelmed and often got knocked out of the debate. I most deeply regret the time when we talked about nuclear power. I was born in Hiroshima, so I felt a strong sense of responsibility to take an active part in the discussion, as a man from a city which has been atom-bombed and also as a man from the country where a nuclear plant accident occurred. I tried to express my own opinion to the professor and other students and develop the discussion, but I was at a loss for words in only a few minutes and eventually was repeating “Si. (Exactly.)”.
     I regret that in Japan I did not practice expressing my own view in Italian. In addition, when I was studying Italian in Japan, I tended to attach a greater importance on the grammar over vocabulary. In retrospect, it would be more beneficial to have studied a vocabulary book before going to Italy.
     Well anyway, staying in a foreign country is a pleasant and very interesting way to study a local language. If you go shopping at a supermarket, you can learn tons of new nouns, and if you talk with professors, students, and people in a town, you can get a perfect opportunity to practice the conjugation of verbs. If you go to a church, you can read the history of the language, which leads to modern Italian, and if you go to a soccer stadium, you can hear many parolacce (slangs) flying back and forth, which you will not find in any textbooks sold in Japan. You can hardly forget the words that you have collected with your five senses. When I was not able to make myself understood to a friend, I looked up words meaning precisely what I wanted to say. I was very happy when my friend smiled when I used the words that I had looked up in the dictionary. In contrast, I was deeply disappointed when I had no choice but to communicate in English because of not being capable to understand the Italian used.
     On the weekends, I went out to the center of the town, the suburbs of Perugia, and to sightseeing spots in Umbria. Perugia has a very long history. Right next to the university there is a huge gate constructed by Etruscans in the third century B.C. In the old center of the town, there remains many solemn churches. A lot of tourists come to Perugia in order to visit them. We went on a day tour prepared by the university to Assisi, famous asa sacred place for pilgrimage. The most impressive place for me was Lake Trasimeno located in the west of Perugia. I went there on a day trip alone for various reasons, and I realized my maturity a little after I went through many thrilling experiences. I feel sorry that I cannot mention the details because of the limited space.
     In the end, I want to say thank you to Prof. Muramatsu, Prof. Hyuga, Prof. Sawayanagi, and Prof. Farinelli of the University for Foreigners of Perugia who made careful preparations for this global praxis. Also, I want to thank my parents for helping me with the expenses and my friends both in Japan and in Italy for helping me have a wonderful time on this one-month journey.



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